Modi arrives in US

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has arrived in the US on Monday on a three day visit to garner support for the entry into the NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group). While US wants India’s rise as a regional power in Asia to counter China’s economic and military superpower ambition, China is hell bent to nullify this ploy.

Earlier, India tossed the chance to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council and so also missed out on becoming the member of NSG at the right time. Still, it is better to be late than never. The chemistry between India and US has dramatically changed in the last few years. Narendra Modi was denied a visa to enter the US when he was chief minister of Gujarat in 2007, post Gujarat riot.

But, now the time has changed and India’s Prime Minister Modi has been invited to address the joint session of the US Congress.

Forging ahead with the Indo-US friendship, a number of issues from climate change, to defense cooperation, to a number of other things. But, the US can play a bigger role to augment Obama’s ‘Pivot to Asia’ policy if it can supplement the much needed defense hardware and technical know-how to India.

China's position

‘New assertive China’ is flexing its muscle in the South China Sea. Even the Chinese Admiral Sun Jianguo has recently reiterated at Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore that ‘China has no fear of trouble.' After strengthening China’s position in the South China Sea, the days won’t be far when its nuclear powered submarines, as well as its naval ships will patrol the Indian Ocean under the pretext of curbing piracy, to name one. China is likely to use the Gadwar port of Pakistan once it becomes operational and the frequency of Chinese submarines will increase many a fold in the Indian Ocean in the coming days and pose a threat to the strategic assets of both India and the US.

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To counter China in the Indian Ocean, the US needs to help India strengthen its naval fleet, especially the submarine fleet. China has more than 70 submarines (the exact number is not yet known) in its navy out of which more than 50 submarines are diesel/electric powered. As compared to China, India has only 13 submarines in its fleet.

Though the nuclear powered submarines are capable of patrolling a long distance at any stretch, the beauty of low-profile diesel electric submarines is its stealthy movement; hence the detection rate also goes down. Also, the reduced price tag of diesel/electric subs as compared to nuclear submarines will be helpful to increase the number of fleets within a tight budget. At present, India can’t afford to match China’s number of nuclear powered submarines, but with a staggering number of diesel/electric submarines in its naval fleet, India can counter balance the future supremacy of the Chinese Navy in the Indian Ocean. For this to happen,  the US needs to help India achieve a strong submarine fleet apart from providing it the much needed submarine hunting aircrafts and naval ships.

Though the US has stopped operating and manufacturing these submarines, it can still reboot the project to counterbalance China in the Indian Ocean. Though the diesel electric submarines of India can’t foray frequently in the South China Sea, still with the edge in the numbers game, it will have superiority in the Indian Ocean.

The future

India and the US can manufacture diesel/electric submarines in Modi’s ‘Make in India’ program and also can export to countries like Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Brunei and Australia. If Modi’s ‘Make in India’ and Obama’s ‘Pivot to Asia’ ideologies join hands, then Indo-US joint effort will be able to counter China effectively in the Indian ocean.